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Consumers Fight Back Against Robocallers

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Phone scams are on the rise, with the U.S. Department of Justice reporting new investigations almost weekly. Some call and pose as debt collections agencies, seeking repayment of non-existent deaths. Others pose as charity workers. These individuals can be hard to spot – and extremely difficult to catch. The DOJ made major headlines last year with its indictment last year of more than 60 people in a multi-million dollar Indian call center scam that targeted U.S. victims. Callers often threatened victims with arrest if they didn’t pay.

Now, some consumers are fighting back. Take The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s recent account of a man who began to get so fed up with scammers who continually called claiming to be with the Canadian Revenue Agency that he decided to take matters into his own hands. He began calling them back. Every second he can troll the trolls, he explained, was time they couldn’t spend trolling someone else.

The scammers set up a voicemail, claiming to be the government agency and demanding a call back to resolve a serious matter of criminal activity. Now, if one were to call back the actual government agency, they would be pushed through a series of bureaucratic menus before you ever get to a real person. However, when you call back the phony government agency, you’ll be put right through to an “agent.” Once the Canadian man discovered this, he started calling them every spare chance he got – on his lunch break, while waiting in traffic or if he found himself bored for a few minutes. He gives them phony names and erroneous numbers. If they hang up, he calls them right back, pretending the call was disconnected. Sometimes, the scammers demand he stop “pranking” them – but he doesn’t. He figures every minute they’re on the phone with him is less time they’re swindling someone else.

Here in the U.S., where CNBC reports $16 billion in losses for identity theft and fraud (which includes phone scammers), there are numerous reports of individuals taking the same kind of tactics. For example, The Washington Post reported on a Florida woman contacted by phone scammers claiming to be calling about the need to fix a virus on her computer. She theatrically gasps and claims the need to go check her computer – and then leaves them on the open line while she returns to her television show. Occasionally after 20 to 30 minutes, the scammer is still on the other end, waiting.

Our consumer protection attorneys in Miami know most people don’t have time for this kind of action. That’s why robots might be the only way to beat robocalling scammers. reported earlier this year about a telecom consultant who has compiled a veritable army of phone bots – which he sells to businesses and consumers – which transfers scammers to human-sounding “bots” that will “talk” to the scammers, until they figure out what’s going on. The bots give generic responses (i.e., “uh-huh,” “Yes,” “I’m listening,). After his computer was hacked through a phony tech support message from a “certified Windows Support agent,” he turned his bots on the scammer, having them make outbound calls at a rate of 500 calls simultaneously on 20 lines. Now, he says, the number associated with that pop-up has been disconnected. He gave a TED talk about the strategy earlier this year, and is seeking to raise funds to expand their operations.

If need help from a consumer protection attorney in Miami after a scam, contact Jacobs Legal for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday at 5 p.m. on “Debt Warriors with Bruce Jacobs and Court Keeley,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

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